Jeff Timmons of ’98 Degrees’ Weathers the Storm


Sin City’s resident super-hunk on quarantine, creativity and some very pesky buttons…

Boy bands. Every decade has its share. Some, like The Beatles, create a lasting legacy while others yield punchlines or are forgotten. Resilient members re-invent themselves, branching off in new directions until the inevitable reunion tour. Jeff Timmons of 98 Degrees has experienced most of the above. And, like the boy band he founded, Jeff still keeps temperatures rising.

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Timmons is a smart businessman as well as a seasoned entertainer. He’s weathered the ups-and-downs of fame and focused on personal growth when boy bands fell out of favor. While he was keeping busy behind the scenes in the music industry, the male revue Chippendales invited him to be a celebrity guest host.

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Uncertain of how it would impact his career, the Canton Ohio native was reluctant to accept. His wife Amanda, however, realized that it was a great opportunity and urged him to give it a try. A few weeks turned several successful months, and Jeff was suddenly everywhere in Las Vegas…pool parties, nightclub gigs, and even a protest march down the Strip with dozens of Jubilee showgirls (that’s a whole other story).

Jeff Timmons

While pop singers often quickly fade away, Jeff Timmons’ lasting image is tailor-made for the Sin City scene. He boldly embraces his sex appeal, which isn’t as common for male performers as you might think. With open shirts (sometimes even bare-chested) and sensual body language, the always-shredded hunk knows how to make hearts race and body heat soar.

Timmons is also the rare musician who celebrated his LGBTQ fan base long before it was common to do so. He recognizes everyone as equals and was ahead of the times by performing at gay clubs, participating in Las Vegas Pride, and promoting the NOH8 Campaign for marriage, gender, and human equality.

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After the Chippendales stint, Jeff settled here permanently with Amanda and the kids. Then he created his very own male revue called Men of the Strip. The sexy production was daring and cutting-edge, with a focus on live singing and one or two controversial sequences (like this one). MOTS toured the country, had a limited run at Hard Rock Live, and was covered in a documentary event for E! Network.

98 Degrees was headed to the Philippines as part of their latest tour when COVID-19 struck, so now Jeff is hunkered down in Las Vegas with the family. I was able to get ahold of the hard-working stud and talk about his motivations, latest activities and long-term plans. I also tried to get to the bottom of all those unbuttoned shirts.

You’ve dabbled in many facets of entertainment, like reality television, recording studio engineering, and mentoring new acts. What’s left to conquer?

When I think of things I’d like to “conquer” or from an accomplishment standpoint, I feel like I’ve got a LONG way to go. I’m working hard to make a mark in the TV space in a number of different areas. I’ve got a few non-scripted things in the works finally, an entertainment news magazine show, a holiday special, and some other things going. I eventually want to get some scripted things happening as well. I’m launching a podcast very soon, so there is some new news on the horizon. I’ve got a lot of things left to do!

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The Vegas entertainment community is crippled right now. Do you have any encouraging words or suggestions?

I think the entertainment business as a whole has really suffered, not just in Vegas. I’m fortunate enough to have a very loyal and dedicated fanbase. 98 Degrees has the luxury to reschedule shows, create new music, etc.  Not everyone has that luxury. I know I’m very lucky. I like to look at things from a positive perspective.  

Although this pandemic has been devastating to everyone, there are some good things that have emerged. There are tons of new and developing technologies that allow artists and entertainers to produce high-quality productions from their homes. The pause has really given me the opportunity to learn more about music and TV production, and get better in the studio. Artists just have to be creative on how to keep fans engaged.  

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Another plus is that because folks have so much time on their hands, entertainment is being consumed more than ever. You really only need a handful of loyal fans that believe in you and what you’re creating to make a living. You just have to be creative. And, although things can be depressing, find a way to stay positive and use the time to get better at your craft.

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There’s a joke going around that men will come out of the pandemic as either a “hunk”, “chunk” or “drunk”. Which one will Jeff Timmons be?

WELL… I started out working out like a fanatic (wannabe hunk), then slipped for a bit (put on some chunk), and now I’m back in obsessive mode (trying to get to hunk again). One thing has been consistent: the DRUNK part, lol…

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A lot of artists are saying that the shutdown’s isolation has allowed them to create new and better pieces of work. Have you experienced that?

I definitely have utilized the time to try to get better. After the initial shock of having to postpone 40+ shows, I rolled up my sleeves and have been using this time to learn more about the recording studio, reading a ton of inspirational and motivational material, and pitching a number of ideas to strategic partners that will go into production when things open back up. I’m trying to make lemonade out of lemons.

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What one Sin City guilty pleasure do you miss having at your fingertips right now?

I’m not much of a sleeper, so I loved how at any time of the night I could find something to do on the strip. I miss that.

Choose one new favorite: A) catching up on sleep B) binge-watching movies/shows C) spending more time with family

I think it’s a toss-up between B and C. We crafted our touring schedule to be home with our families during the week, but the quarantine has really allowed for much more quality time. I’ve also binged-watched about everything there is to watch on all of the streaming services. There isn’t much left but foreign language series, and I’ve fallen in love with a lot of those!

Have you formed any new habits that will remain when things return to normal?

I’ve always been a reader, but I make it a point to dive into at least one new book a week. That habit is going to stick for sure.

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Do you foresee yourself staying closer to home now instead of touring? Is there a possible Vegas residency in the works?

I LOVE being at home with my family. That being said, the demand for live concerts is at an all-time high. I think 98 Degrees has at least one or two more big tours in us. We are DEFINITELY exploring opportunities for a Vegas residency. The chance to be in one place and have the fans come to us is a dream come true. It allows us to stay with our families.

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You’re known to your fans, friends, colleagues, and locals as a kind, genuine person. What keeps you grounded?

I hope that’s true. I think it’s all about how you’re raised. My parents made sure we always stayed grounded and treated others with the utmost respect. Part of staying focused and keeping things real with yourself is having a constant inner dialogue about what your truth is and taking an inventory daily of what you’re thankful for. Grattude is the attitude!

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I often call you the “Sexiest Man Alive”. You embrace your physical appeal in a way that few male artists do. Have you always been that confident?

You’re always so kind when it comes to that. I’m so very flattered. I try to embrace it because it’s part of the business. Unfortunately, talent is always further down the list when it comes to success in the entertainment business. We learned that as a group early on. We know that fans are expecting us to look good. Anyhow, it gives us an excuse to stay healthy and in shape. Hopefully, it makes our wives happy!

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Will we see more of ‘Men of the Strip‘, or is that chapter closed for good?

I never want to close the chapter on ‘Men of the Strip.’  It was such a success from a touring standpoint and so much fun.  It was quite a different experience from anything else I’ve ever done.  There is always a demand for that show, so never say ‘never!’

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After covering new territory, Jeff and I revisited a series of questions that I first asked him back in 2013. As is the case with ever-changing Vegas, only two reponses remained the same. I’ll leave you to guess which ones they are.

Favorite Vegas Restaurant: Archi’s Thai Kitchen

Favorite Spot To Relax In Vegas: The pools at Wynn or Cosmopolitan

Best Thing Off The Strip: Downtown

Who Is Your Dream Duet With?: Bruno Mars or Ed Sheerin

Best-Kept Vegas Secret: Hiking and the lake

Must-See Attraction For Vegas Virgins: Absinthe (if it’s still running). Carrot Top still crushes, too

Best Hangover Cure: Hair of the Dog!

The Sin I’d Like To See Sin City Lose: The traffic on the Strip

Men Of The Strip Premiere

Favorite Place To Stay Fit: I do it at home now

Favorite Sexy Look On Stage – Tight Shirt, Unbuttoned Shirt, Or No Shirt?: All three have their advantages! (winks)

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You can keep up with the latest from Jeff Timmons and 98 Degrees by visiting his official Facebook page

Photos: Sam Novak, Gabe Ginsberg, Jeff and Amanda Timmons via Facebook

Hot Guys of Vegas – Humanitarians and the Humane


The latest of my series on the good-looking men who make Las Vegas a better place to live…

Hard to believe so much time has passed, but it’s been five whole months since my last entry in the “Hot Guys of Vegas” series! Since we’ve just come out of the “Season of Giving”, it only seems fitting to salute this current crop of hunks. One way or another, they’re all doing their part to make Las Vegas more live-able, either by promoting businesses, supporting worthy causes…or sharing their love for the animal kingdom.

Ricardo Laguna – Pro BMX rider/ TV personality

 

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                                                          Ricardo Laguna

Where you’ve seen him – sporting events, magazines, community functions

There are very few people in Las Vegas who haven’t encountered Ricardo Laguna. This stunning man has been a resident since the age of thirteen. When he’s not emceeing an event, helping with a charity or enjoying time with his family, he’s flying through the air on his BMX bikes. Sometimes he’s doing all of them at once.

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           Raising funds for the NSPCA at Vegas Indoor Skydiving Tunnel Jam…

Ricardo’s known for his charisma, community efforts and undying love for the city he calls home. He also owns an eye-catching wardrobe, thanks in part to friend Ricci Lopez-Hammargren at STITCHED Men’s Haberdashery (more on Ricci soon). But underneath those gorgeous clothes is an equally stunning body. In or out of a shirt, Ricardo Laguna is always dressed to impress.

Several children’s charities are close to Ricardo’s chest…er, “heart” . You may find him doling out ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s “Free Cone Day” to benefit CASA Foundation or fighting childhood obesity via Jump 4 Joy Foundation. But whatever he’s doing or how high he soars. Ricardo Laguna eventually ends up with his feet…and his wheels…firmly on the ground.

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Noteworthy traits – defiance of gravity, ability to great cheese on his abs

 

Mike Foland – entrepreneur/reality TV star/entertainer

 

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                                                          Mike Foland

Where you’ve seen him – E!’s Men of the Strip/FLO Advertising/Chippendales

Mike Foland might not be a household name…unless you’ve seen him as the smooth-talking “Money Mike” in E! Television’s Men of the Strip movie event. Nevertheless, Mike’s presence is felt in just about every corner of Sin City. He’s a man on the move, just like his awesome FLO Advertising mobile digital billboards that you may have seen this blog displayed on.

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Foland is one of those guys that everyone seems to know and love…and rightly so. He has his hands in so many operations and activities that it’s hard to describe exactly WHAT Mike does…or just how wide his interests are. Along with the advertising business, Foland works behind the scenes to create new Vegas entertainment, is a member of the National Addiction Center Treatment Alliance and owner of Sunshine Sober Home in Florida.

Mike’s remarkable background is just as varied. The West Palm Beach FL native began as a wrestler which segued into an MMA fighting career. Somehow along the way he managed to become a member of the world-famous Chippendales. No shortage of testosterone in this guy, that’s for sure.

Mike says his dancing days are far behind him now, but love for animals will always be a part of him. Very much a cowboy at heart, Mike enjoys farmer life and outdoor activities. Fishing, boating, hiking and diving are all part of what makes this rugged hunk a real “man’s man”. But deep down inside and underneath that ever-present cowboy hat, Mike Foland is a true softie.

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Noteworthy traits – gentle demeanor, major masculinity

 

Jeffrey Frischmann – showroom manager/animal rescuer

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                                                    Jeffrey Frischmann

Where you’ve seen him – Mike Hammer Comedy Magic/Spirit of the King

If you’ve had the good fortune to attend one of the two sterling shows at Four Queens Hotel Casino, chances are you’ve met young Jeffrey Frischmann. This handsome, soft-spoken boyish gentleman presents himself with a demeanor and elegance reminiscent of the showroom maitre d’s of yesteryear Vegas.

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                  Jeffrey joins Steve Connolly onstage at Spirit of the King

Jeffrey usually wears a wacky logo t-shirt under his dark blazer. which adequately represents the dual personality of this outstanding guy. Jeffrey’s quite formal on the outside but life-loving and adventure-filled within.

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You’d be hard pressed to find a photo of Mr. Frischmann by himself. He’s always with…or holding…someone or something he loves. Married to lovely Ayin with two-year-old daughter Farrah, this family shares their home with some other very special members.

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Jeffrey and Ayin are actively involved in providing homes for French bulldogs. As part of Nevada Frenchie Rescue, the couple has been instrumental in relocating pets from other areas into better situations…and have adopted several of them as well. Of course, they’ve experienced many tearful farewells along the way, but Jeffrey knows that the pain is worth the rewards.

This aficionado of all things retro-cool loves to hit up antique shops with his pal Carrot Top, listen to rock music on his vintage record changer and play pinball with pals. During the scorching Vegas summers, Jeffrey heads out to Lake Mead for swimming, boating and diving. In the winters, there’s snowboarding to keep him fit.

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Being Mike Hammer’s right hand man means that Jeffrey is ever-present at fundraisers and charity functions that Hammer hosts and attends. Most notable is a series of annual Mike Hammer Celebrity Go-Kart Races that have benefited a long list of charities.

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However Jeffrey spends his days, you can always find this great guy charming his guests at the Four Queens Showroom five nights a week. Making people smile comes naturally for Jeffrey. He represents his generation VERY well.

 

Notable traits – tough-guy tattoos, boyish grin

 

 

NSPCA and FLO Advertising Team Up to Save Animals In Need


High-tech mobile digital billboard brings much-needed attention to Nevada’s no-kill shelter…

You’ve seen them on the Strip, grabbing the attention of thousands of tourists with its stunning clarity and brightness. You’ve read my articles touting their collaborations with PALMS Casino and SAW ESCAPE EXPERIENCE. You might have witnessed seen my own visage frightening visitors a few months ago.

FLO Advertising Palms Casino

There’s no question that FLO Advertising‘s mobile digital billboard service makes things happen. Now they’re using their technology to make a difference for homeless cats and dogs at the Nevada Society for the Protection Against Cruelty to Animals aka NSPCA.

 

 

Located at 4800 W. Dewey Drive, just a chew bone’s toss away from Mandalay Bay, the NSPCA operates as both a charitable organization and a no-kill shelter. The Las Vegas chapter, which is also the state headquarters, is home to over a thousand found and surrendered animals at any given time. This staggering number means that they operate at full capacity and rely on adoptions to make room for other needy animals.

Every soul is precious.  Dogs, cats, and other domesticated animals offer perfect love — unconditional devotion — and depend on people for care and survival.  Each one deserves kindness and a happy home.

Nevada SPCA rescues “unwanted” animals, those with advanced challenges (abuse, birth defects, illness, injury, neglect, starvation), and those in peril at other shelters. Volunteers and staff help mend broken hearts and broken bones.  They heal without deadlines and learn that people can be compassionate and nurturing. We then strive to match each rescued animal with people by personality and lifestyle in order to find them lifelong, stable homes.

Besides annually adopting and rescuing thousands of cats and dogs, and hundreds of birds and rabbits, Nevada SPCA also rescues and adopts more than a dozen other domesticated species in urgent need, including guinea pigs, ferrets, fish, goats, pigs, gerbils, hamsters, mice, rats, degus, sugar gliders, and turtles.

NSPCA

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It’s vital to recognize that any shelter worth its mission statement is very careful to match pets with the proper families. This vetting process ensures that each cat, dog or other pet will have the greatest success in integrating with someone’s household. It’s a painful truth, but not every person is meant to be a pet parent, and not every pet is right for every home.

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So along with protecting and providing for these animals, the NSPCA provides education to the public. A vast amount of their resources and time are devoted to rehabilitating pets that come from bad situations and/or health issues and injuries. All of these challenges require money, of course, so fundraising and community outreach make up a big part of the NSPCA‘s operations.

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Celebrities and other organizations often come to the aid of NSPCA. In October of this past year, Vegas Indoor Skydiving hosted the Third Annual Tunnel Flight Jam Competition and Celebrity Challenge. Familiar faces like Carrot Top, Golden Knights announcer Mark Shunock and BMX Pro Ricardo Laguna gathered to raise money for the shelter. Along with food, blankets and toys, the event collected over $3,000.00

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 Mark Shunock of MONDAYS DARK (with “Rugby”) is a big supporter of NSPCA…

As I’ve mentioned many times in the past, Las Vegas is a tight-knit community. The residents here are always eager to lend a hand and help one another. As luck would have it, popular thrill-maker Jason Egan of SAW Escape Experience is on the NSPCA’s Board of Directors.

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After his successful FLO Advertising campaign for the thrilling SAW attraction, Egan invited FLO’s Mike Foland to volunteer his mobile digital billboard services to the NSPCA. In no time, FLO was touting the glories of gorgeous Mamma Cass and her pups, along with Chevy (banner photo above), a badly-injured cat that was saved from a car engine and brought back to health.

It’s easy to recognize a FLO Advertising truck. They’re the biggest and brightest on the Strip, so naturally they leave a lasting impression. I can speak from experience, for when I advertised on FLO my readership absolutely soared. My billboard also expanded Vegas Unfiltered‘s demographics and coverage far beyond Las Vegas. In fact, I was recognized in the small town of Tonopah NV, over two hundred miles away, simply because of the advertisement you see below…and my enormous cranium, of course.

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All of the animals you see below and hundreds more are waiting for loving parents. If that person is you. make plans to visit the NSPCA and discover your new family member. Not only will you change their life, but they will change yours, too.

For information on  NSPCA, including adopting, donating or volunteering, click here. Hours for visiting are 10 am to 4 pm Monday through Thursday, 10 am to 5 pm on Friday and Saturday (no public hours on Sundays).

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To learn more about FLO Advertising or to request a quote, visit their webpage at floadvertising.com or call Mike Foland at 702.203.0471.

Photos: NSPCA, Jason Egan, FLO Advertising, Sam Novak

Hamburger Mary’s FINALLY Unleashes The Beef


Unique food and entertainment destination’s long-delayed debut is here…

It’s been more than a year since Hamburger Mary’s Las Vegas missed its projected opening date. There have actually been more delays and postponements than a Mariah Carey or Madonna concert. Some social-media skeptics have questioned whether the fun, quirky venue will EVER actually open.

But I’ve just returned from the official first hour of business and can say without a doubt: Hamburger Mary’s is going to be fabulous!

Hamburger Mary's Las Vegas

                       My original announcement as it appeared last summer…

No doubt you’ve seen my original piece that announced Mary’s return to the scene. It’s been one of my most heavily-read, suggesting that the Vegas community is really behind the venture.

Hamburger Mary's Las Vegas

So despite the low-key and quiet opening today (to allow for server training and fine-tuning operations), eager diners were lined up well before the doors unlocked. They were braving the heat for a first taste of Mary’s meat.

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Hamburger Mary's Las Vegas

Amid opening jitters and lots of excitement, partners Luigi Placencia and James Healey and General Manager Eleneki “Ernie” Yuen welcomed their first guests to the bright and campy restaurant and cabaret.

Hamburger Mary's Las Vegas

Hamburger Mary's Las Vegas

With everything that I saw today, Hamburger Mary's Las Vegas should be a big hit with the local community. It remains to be seen if the lucrative tourist trade can be made aware of its existence, but plans are in the works to draw fun-seekers from the Strip as well.

The large space at 1700 E. Flamingo Road is a true gem with ample free parking. Two dining rooms, two bars and two stages will allow for multi-purpose entertainment. An outdoor patio will be completed soon, adding to the mix.

Hamburger Mary's Las Vegas

Hamburger Mary's Las Vegas

Hamburger Mary's Las Vegas

Club Mary’s will take over one section of the venue on weekend nights beginning at 11pm. Food service is available from opening til 11pm on weekdays and until 4am for those party nights of Friday and Saturday.

 

A limited menu is in effect for the soft opening, which should run until the first week of September. Then comes the Grand Opening gala with everything Hamburger Mary’s is known for. Prepare yourself for outrageous drag shows, sexy male dancers…and perhaps a certain gathering of hunks that I’ve been working on for awhile.

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Hamburger Mary's Las Vegas

                Yes, your bill will come to you in a high heel shoe…

Hamburger Mary's Las Vegas

Hamburger Mary's Las Vegas

Hamburger Mary's Las Vegas

         Gender-neutral restrooms – Mary’s progressive all-welcome philosophy…

As Ernie Yuen posted on Facebook today, the challenges to plan out Mary’s return to the city will be worth it in the long run:

It’s been 17 months since Luigi Placencia and I met. I was doing a in-house call for our Las Vegas PRIDE Magazine. Lou wanted to be an advertising partner with Las Vegas PRIDE to promote his nightclub (FLAIR). We were sitting in this empty space, a very large room with 3 walls and a bar connected to a room that looked like a kitchen.

Luigi Placencia and I clicked, both of us with potty mouths and crazy personalities. We instantly became friends. This all started with one question an honest answer and a promise.

The Question- What are you going to do with this amazing space?

The Answer- I wanted to build a home for our Las Vegas LGBT Community

The Promise- If you build a Hamburger Mary’s I promise to come and work for you and be your GM.

Today- excited, happy, nervous- we open our doors at 11:00am- It’s finally here. Let the fun begin!

Hamburger Mary's Las Vegas

             Myself with partners James Healey (left) and Luigi Placencia…

Hamburger Mary's Las Vegas

   With FLO Advertising’s Mike Foland aka “Money Mike” of Men of the Strip…

Based on what I saw today, Hamburger Mary’s Las Vegas should be a big hit with the local community. It remains to be seen if the lucrative tourist trade can be made aware of its existence. No doubt plans are in the works to draw fun-seekers from the Strip as well.

Good luck to everyone and I’ll be seeing you. A lot.

Hamburger Mary’s is located at 1700 East Flamingo Road. Hours are from 11am to 11pm weekdays, Friday and Saturday until 4am.

Photos: Sammasseur, David Vincent via Facebook

 

Shark Sightings Stun Tourists On Las Vegas Boulevard


Palms’ reinvention lights up Strip via Flo Advertising mobile LED billboards…

When you visit the city as often as I do, you tend to become…shall we say…jaded by most of the sights and sounds around you. You can only gawk at the Bellagio fountains, the Luxor pyramid or New York NY‘s twisting Big Apple Roller Coaster so many times before you start to walk right by with perhaps a casual glance.

So whenever something new and exciting catches my gaze, it’s a memorable Sin City experience. That’s what happened last month when heading over to Planet Hollywood Casino after taking in the Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Garden‘s spring display (always pretty…and pretty much the same as the last time).

FLO Advertising Palms Casino

While approaching the crosswalk between Cosmopolitan and Miracle Mile Shops, I was stunned by what appeared to be a giant set of teeth about to devour a man’s hand. Cue the theme from “JAWS”.

It took a moment to absorb what I was seeing…then realize that I was witnessing FLO Advertising in action. You may have caught my previous piece on FLO and how their mobile digital billboards were drawing the morbidly-curious and adventurous types to the Official SAW Escape Room Experience.

FLO Advertising SAW Escape Experience

Taking in the stunned reactions from pedestrians at the busy intersection of four major hotels was, I’ve gotta say, pretty gratifying. It’s one thing to write about a cool concept but something altogether visceral to witness it in action.

That’s what makes FLO’s approach so effective…and why Stations Casinos has entrusted FLO Advertising to publicize their reinvention of Palms Casino. Here are the specs:

FLO’s mobile digital billboards are 23% larger than the conventional mobile digital billboards you’ve been seeing on the Strip. Their electronic signage is staggering 10,000 NITS brightness which is 25% brighter than the competition. Their state of the art technology is instantly update-able and flexible, allowing for unlimited creativity and immediate response to marketing demands.

FLO Advertising Palms Casino

At this point you’ve gotta be wondering what any of this has to do with sharks. Well, the predator in question is the main attraction at a new Palms lounge called Unknown Bar. Right in the heart of the casino’s reimagined gaming floor, Unknown Bar‘s unusual shark sculpture is called The Unknown (Explored, Explained, Exploded).

This eighteen-year-old work has never been publicly exhibited before, but now it’s the centerpiece of creator Damien Hirst‘s outlandish lounge concept. Yes, the British artist who made the sculpture from a real tiger shark (and lots of formaldehyde) also designed the bar space as well.

FLO Advertising Palms Casino

Hirst has been known to raise eyebrows (and ruffle the feathers of animal-rights advocates) with his use of real creatures as art. But stirring up controversy is intentional in the new Palms ‘tude. Check it out:

This daring video reflects that gutsy approach. It depicts vandalism and arson of the Palms as a reason to celebrate. Not the kind of advertising campaign you’d typically expect to see in today’s turbulent society. But hey, points for originality!

As cool and eye-catching as the video is, it’s one thing to view it on your smartphone or PC and something far different to catch it super-lifesize and super-bright while walking the heart of the Strip. Take my word for it…FLO technology is stunning with the naked eye.

The “From Dust To Gold” renovation is covering just about every nook and cranny of Palms. Top-floor funspots like Apex Social Club and The View will compete for your attention with ground-level Rojo Lounge and 24-hour Tonic.

FLO Advertising Palms Casino

On the dining front, beloved Cafe 6 at Palms Place has given way to Laguna Pool House and Kitchen, expanding the venue beyond gourmet burgers to full breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The poolside location is gorgeous and tempting, but keep your shirt on…the elevated menu makes it clear that this isn’t a swimsuit-appropriate eatery.

Both the buffet and 24-hour diner have been given top to bottom renovations and new names, too. Out with the world’s largest Hooters, in with Scotch 80 Prime, a fine-dining destination with a focus on rare whiskeys from Scotland.

FLO Advertising Palms Casino

Along with new dining and entertainment outlets, the common areas, guestrooms, infamous Sky Villas and even the parking garages are getting major overhauls. It’s all in an effort to bring Cosmopolitan-style coolness to the off-Strip legend while offering Stations-style value to tourists and locals alike.

FLO Advertising Palms Casino

With all of this newness in the works, it doesn’t surprise me in the slightest that Palms Casino Resort has teamed up with FLO Advertising to spread the word. Boasting the biggest and brightest mobile billboards in the city, FLO assures that visitors will take notice.

FLO Advertising Palms Casino

So the next time you’re fishing for a little off-Strip excitement, hop on a bus, taxi or LYFT to check out the changes at Palms. And keep your eyes open for that shark. But don’t worry about getting chomped…he’s only going with the FLO.

FLO Advertising Palms Casino

Information about FLO Advertising Mobile Digital Billboards is available on their website. Click here to learn more or request a quote. 

Photos: Sammasseur, Palms Casino Resort via Facebook   

Videos: Palms Casino Resort, FLO Advertising

 

SAW Escape Experience Takes to the Strip via FLO Advertising’s Mobile Digital Billboard Trucks


World-famous Egan Productions teams up with the latest high-tech advertising firm to deliver the deep cuts of Lionsgate’s slasher movie series…

Mobile advertising is a rich part of American culture. From Depression-era sandwich boards to Goodyear Blimps hovering over stadiums, advertising has always been most effective when it’s on the move.

Las Vegas has its own popular collection of mobile billboards and taxi toppers. They keep visitors up to date on the hottest shows, best restaurants and newest headliners on the Strip.

FLO Advertising SAW Escape Experience

New Vegas-based FLO Advertising is the latest such venture. FLO Advertising features high-tech digital mobile billboards mounted to a fleet of sleek black trucks. Gliding up and down the Strip with the brightest eye-catching electronic signs, FLO Advertising estimates that they reach up to four million potential customers each month.

FLO’s mobile digital billboards are 23% larger than the conventional mobile digital billboards you’ve been seeing on the Strip. Their electronic signage is staggering 10,000 NITS brightness which is 25% brighter than the competition. Their state of the art technology is instantly update-able and flexible, allowing for unlimited creativity and immediate response to marketing demands.

FLO Advertising SAW Escape Experience

It’s no surprise, then, that innovative Egan Productions , a full-service production company also based in Vegas, has partnered with FLO Advertising to promote their new Official SAW Escape Experience. Inspired by the long-running series of Lionsgate hit films, SAW Escape Experience brings your biggest horror-film fears to life.

FLO Advertising SAW Escape Experience

Now open at 2121 Industrial Road, just behind the Stratosphere and a bone’s throw from the world famous Golden Steer Steakhouse, SAW Escape delivers a full-building multi-room experience that is entirely immersive and absolutely terrifying.

As the unwitting player in Jigsaw’s twisted games, you’ll need to rely on wits and reflexes to survive a harrowing tour of Egan & Co. Meat Packing Plant. That’s where things will undoubtedly take a sinister turn for you and your friends.

FLO Advertising SAW Escape Experience

Since their inception, escape rooms have quickly overtaken murder-mystery dinner theater as the hottest interactive thrill. Egan Productions ramps up the octane by building theirs around a familiar and frightening villain.

“Jigsaw”, the vengeful mastermind behind SAW’s traps and pratfalls, has sliced and diced his way through eight successful films. The latest was released just last Halloween to over 100 million dollars at the box office.

FLO Advertising SAW Escape Experience

             Jason Egan (far right) is embraced by the world of horror films…

SAW Escape benefits by having the best creators at the helm. Egan Productions is the firm behind Fright Dome, the infamous Halloween attraction held each year at Circus Circus. Company creator Jason Egan knows his way around the world of horror. He’s served as Executive Producer on cult horror films like Bloodsucking Bastards and The Neighbor (with Vegas favorite Bill Engvall). He even partnered with legendary director George Romero for a Night of the Living Dead-themed house.

FLO Advertising SAW Escape Experience

                                      Egan on the set of The Neighbor

Jason’s Fright Dome attractions featuring the SAW franchise have been standouts in recent years. So when he decided to launch a permanent escape experience in Las Vegas, it seemed natural to integrate the twisted puzzles and traps of Jigsaw’s sinister universe. And Egan’s successful past collaborations with Lionsgate Studio enabled them to entrust their signature character to his team.

FLO Advertising SAW Escape Experience

               Jason Egan and actor Tobin Bell, the iconic “Jigsaw” himself…

With the Official SAW Escape Experience now welcoming victims visitors, the creative team has entrusted their mobile marketing plans to FLO Advertising. Research shows that 73% of Vegas visitors have seen mobile billboards. Of them, 53% say they remember specific ads that they’ve noticed.

FLO Advertising SAW Escape Experience

If something like a traditional billboard can garner that much attention, imagine the number of impressions that an enormous mobile LED-style ad can achieve with 17,000 tourists walking the Strip every hour.

A large number of visitors wait until they get to Vegas to arrange their entertainment and dining plans. Strip-level mobile advertising is a great way to make arriving tourists aware of what’s new and exciting in Sin City.

FLO Advertising SAW Escape Experience

With the partnership of FLO Advertising and The Official SAW Escape Experience taking to the streets, you can believe that horror fans will be lining up to take their crack at the challenges of Jigsaw. “Do You Want To Play A Game?”

SAW ESCAPE EXPERIENCE operates Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday from 6pm to 11pm, Fridays and Saturdays from 5pm until midnight. Click here to purchase tickets. Information about FLO Advertising Mobile Digital Billboards is available on their website. Click here to learn more or request a quote. 

Photos: FLO Advertising, SAW Escape Experience, Jason Egan via Facebook

 

Pride, Prejudice and a “Pitchfork”


Choreographer Glenn Douglas Packard redefines coming-out dramas with a genre-bending slasher film…

People who run on creative energy frequently have a passion project tucked away deep inside their mind. It lives there, growing and taking shape until it finally breaks free and becomes reality. For Emmy-nominated dance man Glenn Douglas Packard, that secret desire has been the creation of his own horror epic.

Pride Prejudice Pitchfork

Glenn and I first connected in the cyber-world a few years back when a mutual friend posted a review of a movie thriller. As my longtime Florida buddy (who also happens to be named Glenn) and I were discussing the merits and shortcomings of the film, Packard chimed in…and I was like “Hey…aren’t you the guy from Men of the Strip?”.

Being a fan of MOTS frontman Jeff Timmons (98 Degrees), I’d had the good fortune to pen numerous Vegas Chatter articles about the show. Packard and crew had just wrapped up their splashy showcase at Mandalay Bay’s House of Blues and it seemed surreal that we were now debating slasher films from far-flung corners of the country.

Pride Prejudice Pitchfork

Packard, Timmons and Foland at Men of the Strip rehearsal…             

Fast forward to summer 2017, and once again I’m in Las Vegas, shadowing Timmons, show financier “Money” Mike Foland and Packard for a relaunch of Men of the Strip. One evening after rehearsals, Glenn and I (along with his associate and right-hand man David Mayorga) headed over to LGBTQ locals’ gem The Garage for cocktails…and to discuss how they turned Packard’s imagination into a silver-screen reality.

Pitchfork was created in the spirit of 70’s and 80’s franchises that, like their titular villains, refuse to stay dead. But the film’s tagline “Every Generation Has Its Monster” cuts a bit deeper. In our era of political turmoil, where LGBTQ citizens view the White House with concern and suspicion, one might ask who the true monster is.

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At the home of main character “Hunter”, that answer is even more complex. Returning to his family’s sprawling rural dairy farm and estate, Hunter is about to face a stern father who recently learned of his son’s homosexuality. Hunter’s not coming back alone though, as his art-school classmates have packed into a van for the weekend to throw him a coming-out party of sorts.

Pride Prejudice Pitchfork

Pride Prejudice Pitchfork

Sexual dynamics are front and center in most slasher films. Those barn-loft trysts and back-seat hookups inevitably lead to a bloody demise. In Pitchfork, sex and sexual subtext permeate nearly every sequence, especially as the story reaches its outrageous climax.

Pride Prejudice Pitchfork

It’s no accident that Pitchfork‘s maniac is a muscular, shirtless man…abs and pecs on display as he slices his way through the cast of characters. Under other circumstances he might be considered hot…in a kinky kind of way. But there’s the issue of a farm tool in place of his left hand. That’s one detail you’d probably leave out of your Grindr profile.

Pride Prejudice Pitchfork

Both Hunter and “Pitch” have daddy issues and highly involved mothers. Each views himself as an outsider, desiring acceptance from his respective family. How they deal with being different, the way they were raised…and how they turn out as adults…offer a strong metaphor for “growing up gay” in today’s volatile and ever-changing society.

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When dreaming up the concept for Pitchfork, it’s unlikely that Packard envisioned he’d one day be acting as its producer, director, casting supervisor and choreographer, too. Yes…choreographer. Would you seriously expect a bunch of vacationing art students to NOT have a barn dance on their gay buddy’s farm?

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Pride Prejudice Pitchfork

Pride Prejudice Pitchfork

Did someone say “Barn Dance”?                         

Despite this being his directorial debut, Packard fills Pitchfork with plenty of style and memorable imagery. The camera swoops in and around each scene, accentuated with glorious aerial shots and starkly-lit night sequences by cinematographer/editor Rey Gutierrez. It boggles the mind that the film was recorded with a single camera in 21 days on the director’s own family farm.

Pride Prejudice Pitchfork

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                  Men of the Strip’s Keith Webb gets a sticky facial…                                              

Like most passion projects, family and friends offered their time and energy to make Pitchfork a reality. Dancer Keith Webb, who also worked with Packard on Men of the Strip, amps up the cast’s hunk quotient as an ill-fated jock.

Plenty of Sin City DNA infuses the heart and soul of Pitchfork. Vegas resident Mayorga from Zombie Burlesque and Men of the Strip served as Assistant Director. Darryl F. Gariglio of Grand Adventures Tours Las Vegas was its Executive Producer/writer. Chris Arrendondo, who creates the eerie creatures and characters for Circus Circus Fright Dome, did the stunning make-up work.

Pride Prejudice Pitchfork

Packard and David Mayorga (back row) clown around with the cast….                         

During filming, Packard revealed a rather moving detail in the film’s making-of documentary: the lair where “Pitch” brings his victims is the actual shack that the director retreated to when he was bullied as a child.

Pride Prejudice Pitchfork

Growing up as a gay person, especially in a rural community, can leave scars that never disappear. In Packard’s case, he used his own safe haven as a symbol for the damage that society can inflict on a developing psyche. His courage to face those memories and channel them into something positive is echoed in a soul-baring “It Gets Better” video from 2010.

Packard told me in our conversations that the effort that went into filming Pitchfork was crazy and intense, yet everyone seemed to have a great time. One would assume that the cast of eager young actors found it cool to be in a horror movie.

Pride Prejudice Pitchfork

Since its release, Pitchfork has won accolades and awards throughout the horror-film universe. Now that Halloween season has arrived it’s finding a new legion of fans, especially within the LGBTQ community.

Glenn continues to promote the film via conventions and screenings. And there’s even a new comic-book novelization by actor/artist Andrew Dawe-collins (“Pa Hollister” in the film) that you can check out here.

Pride Prejudice Pitchfork

Any worthwhile slasher entry teases a sequel, even when the killer seems to be dead and dismembered. In Pitchfork, the unpredictable left-field denouement will leave you gasping…and clamoring for more. Luckily, Glenn told me that ideas for Pitchfork 2 and 3 are already swirling in his semi-twisted mind.

Pride Prejudice Pitchfork

That’s great news for chiller-thriller fans, because every generation needs its monster-movie king. Like John Carpenter and Wes Craven before him, Glenn Douglas Packard is on his way to becoming the next Master of Horror.

Pitchfork is available on a Special Edition Blu Ray/DVD and streaming services like REVRY, YouTube Movies and Amazon Prime.

Photos: Pitchfork, David Mayorga

MEN OF THE STRIP Hosts Gala Premiere

Fans and media converge for opening of Jeff Timmons revue at Hard Rock Live…


Revisiting the evening that fans and media converged for Jeff Timmons’ male revue at Hard Rock Live…

Men Of The Strip Premiere

The ironies couldn’t be any clearer. A fledgling show, years in the making, hosts a gala event just a few doors down from the casino that failed them. The new performance space shares branding with a hotel that’s home to a competing production.

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Both shows are spearheaded by heartthrob celebs, but only one bothers to show his face…and lots more. After many false starts and obstacles galore, Men of the Strip has landed on the Strip.

Men Of The Strip Premiere

Men Of The Strip Premiere

Male revues are just like actual men. They come in all styles, attitudes, levels of sex appeal and price points (just kidding about the last one…sort of). As ticket buyers for an adult-themed show, it’s up to you to decide which one scratches your particular itch.

Men Of The Strip Premiere

In the case of Magic Mike Live at Hard Rock Hotel, some fans of hunky productions are feeling cheated. My own review called it “delusional”, “fun-sucking” and “an overblown bomb”. Your very expensive ticket will get you inane blather from a shrill harpy “comedienne”, striptease dancers who neglect to actually strip, a so-called story line involving a waiter and a mystical unicorn (WTF?).

The real kick in the pants comes from an absentee star – actor Channing Tatum – whose only “appearance” in a show bearing his name is via an audio recording.

Men Of The Strip Premiere

At Hard Rock Cafe’s live-music Strip venue (next to MGM Grand Hotel), things are quite the opposite. All the pretense, social lectures and broken promises of Magic Mike Live have been thrown out the window. In their place are seven talented singers/dancers/actors who sound good, look great and actually take their clothes off.

Men Of The Strip Premiere

Fun-filled production numbers involve plenty of audience interaction, selfie ops (the show is camera-friendly) and tipping with cash (something forbidden in casino showrooms). Most of all, the celebrity attached to Men of the Strip is in the house…and a big part of the show.

Jeff Timmons, the ageless and ab-tastic founder of vocal group 98 Degrees, has been intent on launching the next generation of male revues ever since his stint at legendary Chippendales. Jeff and I sat down to chat several times in the months leading up to this weekend. It’s clear that his passion for the project is boundless. Fortunately,  that enthusiasm comes through onstage and energizes the cast.

Men Of The Strip Premiere

MOTS’s tightly-knit production rarely slows down to let you breathe. The troupe makes its first appearance from the rear, hidden under sleek black helmets and leather gear. 

Walking in formation, they gather for a hard-edged sequence created by famed choreographer Glenn Douglas Packard (Michael Jackson, Pink, Whitney Houston). Packard, pictured below, is hands-on throughout the performance and also serves as emcee.

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Next up, singer Colin Cahill briefly goes mellow with an acoustic version of  Ne-Yo’s “Let Me Love You” that segues into a sultry chair number. Various takes on masculine fantasies follow, delivered with a lighthearted playfulness that MML doesn’t even strive to achieve.

Men Of The Strip Premiere

Timmons was a crowd-pleaser at the show’s premiere on Friday. Not only did he debut a new song written especially for MOTS, but he got raw and sexy with an audience member in his own set-piece. Shredded to the max and tanned to perfection, Timmons tore off his shirt and flaunted a body that even Channing Tatum would envy.

Men Of The Strip Premiere

Packed with die-hard 98 Degrees fans, the crowd went wild when band mate Justin Jeffre joined Timmons for their hit “Give Me Just One Night (Una Noche)”. Other surprise guests are sure to follow, as the singer has promised to feature his celebrity friends when they’re in town.

“Come Play With Us” is Men of the Strip’s marketing slogan. Splashed on billboards around the city, the ads promise a night filled with music, muscle, sweat and laughs. MOTS delivers on those promises throughout the show and well into the evening. The guys hop up on the bar after the performance and guests are encouraged to party, pose for photos and indulge in drink specials.

Men Of The Strip Premiere

The third-floor showroom offers amazing views of the Strip and boasts an outdoor balcony. Parking is available in the Showcase Mall garage behind the cafe for easy in/out access.

Men Of The Strip Premiere

If a party atmosphere is what you’re looking for in a male revue, steer clear of Magic Mike Live. Make your way to Hard Rock Live for Men of the Strip…on the Strip.

Men Of The Strip Premiere

Update – Since the original publication of this article last July, Men of the Strip has gone on to tour the country. The show also achieved my highest ranking of guy-friendly male revues, tying with Aussie Heat at Planet Hollywood. The video clip below will give you some indication of just how gay-friendly the run at Hard Rock Live actually was. 

Cast member Tyler Froehlich, whom I featured in the piece Hot Guys of Vegas – Dad and sons, is now a part of the legendary troupe at Chippendales. He’s already become a fast favorite with audiences both in Las Vegas and when touring around the world.

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                        Tyler Froehlich, real-life soldier turned dancer…

Jeff Timmons has since toured with a reunited 98 Degrees for a series of concerts to promote their Christmas album. They’ll be returning to Green Valley Ranch this coming November 17th (click here for tickets). I attended a performance on December 23rd and the show was astounding. Don’t miss it this year.

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   Myself with Timmons, Mike Foland and Daniel Kouretas at 98 Degrees Xmas…

MOTS’s frontman Mike Foland has assured me that the groundbreaking production is planning another return, mostly like to be launched with a reality TV series tie-in. I’ll be the first to keep you up to date on any developments that cross my desk. 

– Sam

Photos and Video: [Sammasseur]